Senator Dean Smith, WA Minister for Transport Dean Nalder and NT Minister for Transport Peter Chandler together with a group of State and Territory transport officials joined the Shire of Halls Creek and Central Desert Regional Council on a trip down the Tanami Road last week to see for themselves what a difference sealing the road would make.
The group met representatives of the mining, tourism and pastoral sectors as well as the local communities along the way and saw for themselves the opportunities in this remote region.
Adrian Dixon, President of Central Desert Regional Council, said 'it was a great opportunity for the Ministers to experience first hand the issues experienced along the Tanami and hear about the huge opportunities that exist in this region."
At the ABN gold processing operation near the Western Australian/Northern Territory border the travelling party had an opportunity to talk with mining operators from both sides of the border who outlined the problems they have with the road in its current state, the importance of reliable 24/7 access and how vital it is to have reliable access when they are seeking investment for exploration and production.
Across the border into WA, at a community meeting in Balgo the Senator and Ministers heard from the local people of Balgo, Billiluna and Mulan who see the Tanami as the key to the future of their communities and all the economic opportunities it will bring. "The experiences of the communities around Balgo are very similar to our own communities" President Dixon notes. "People in Balgo experience a high cost of living because of the price they have to pay to get the basics transported over the Tanami Road, the damage done to vehicles using the road and the cost of repairs, this is no different to the Central Desert communities such as Nyirripi."
The Halls Creek Shire and the Central Desert Regional Council will continue to work with all levels of government - Federal, State, Territory and local government - to get a commitment to funding the sealing of the road and releasing the economic potential of the area.
Taking the politicians and officials on this journey to talk to the people who see all that potential is another important step in making this happen.